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When her daughter got hurt on a slide in a city park and the North St. Paul City Council would not fix the problem that led to the accident, Betty McCollum got involved in politics. She was elected to the city council on her second try.
In 1992 she ran for the state House of Representatives. District lines were being redrawn at the time so she ran against two incumbents. She beat them both.
In office, she was a strong environmentalist who opposed Northern States Power when the utility sought permission to store spent nuclear waste in dry casks outside the plant. She advocated election reform, including allowing absentee voters to be able to vote without stating a reason they couldn't get to the polls. She had a 92 percent rating from the AFL/CIO and a 100 percent rating from the Sierra Club. She is in favor of abortion rights.
In her 1992 race for the state House, Betty McCollum beat incumbent Rep. Rick O'Conner in the DFL primary with 53.5 percent of the vote and then went on to beat Republican Rep. Dennis Newinski with nearly the same vote margin. Her reelections since have been by wider margins.
In the primary for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Bruce Vento, she survived a heated challenge by three experienced politicians. Two opponents, state Sen. Steve Novak, and St. Paul City Council Member Chris Coleman, said she distored their record in campaign literature. They complained even louder of aggressive mailings sent on McCollum's behalf by the state DFL Party. McCollum was the endorsed candidate. Ultimately, McCollum defeated Republican Linda Runbeck and Independence Party candidate Tom Foley with 48 percent of the vote. Then, in 2002, she won an easy victory with 74% of the votes cast.
In 2004, McCollum faced Patrice Bataglia, a Dakota
County commissioner. McCollum easily was re-elected with a 58%-to-33% victory.
election results for the 4th District.